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Pearl Composer Tyler Bates On Horror Scores & More: Interview

Tyler Bates, a longtime composer whose work goes from film to TV, recently answered some of our questions regarding his projects and the upcoming film by Ti WestPearl. Bates' past projects include CalifornicationSucker PunchThe PunisherDeadpool 2X, and a recent Netflix film, Day Shift. His most recent project, Pearl, a prequel to the film X, is set for theatrical release on September 16th.

'Pearl' Composer Tyler Bates On Horror Scores & More: Interview
Photo Credit: Jim Louvau

Bleeding Cool: What has been an essential part of your creative process when working on a horror film's music like Pearl?  

Tyler Bates: For me, the most important aspect of scoring a film like Pearl or X, for that matter, is to understand the director's vision and sensibilities related to each of the characters and the storytelling as a whole. Both of these films are tonally specific. They're nuanced and delicate as much as they are psychotic and brutal. An intensely affecting payoff is possible only when the audience is emotionally invested in the characters, which requires authenticity in every aspect of  detail of a movie. Ti West is an extremely talented and versatile writer/director/editor, so it's essential to look deep into the backstory and the context of each character's emotional and psychological state to appropriately support Ti or really any director's creative objective. 

'Pearl' Composer Tyler Bates On Horror Scores & More: Interview
Credit A24

Bleeding Cool: Going in between working on music for films, rides, and albums, which have you found to be the most rewarding, and why? 

TB: After being in the business for several years, I realized that I require a continuous influx of  experiences in many aspects of music to maintain the fire behind my inspiration to write, create  and produce. It would be unreasonable for me to place my personal satisfaction on a single project or even a singular medium because I might then be inclined to subconsciously make  selfish choices to satiate my personal aspirations as opposed to what is best for the project and  the artists, directors, and producers who entrust me to support and execute their creative vision.

Bleeding Cool: Music can be such an integral part of the film, especially horror; in your professional opinion, what is critical for the success of a movie like X or Pearl?

TB: Both of these movies were written with great attention to the details that clearly illustrate the  significant character traits relevant to the story, the environment, which provides context, and most importantly, the film's tone. Ti understands the necessary information for his collaborators to succeed at their assigned tasks. I can't understate the value of appropriate blocking and cinematography to provide a visual perspective that draws the audience into the character's personal stories and, often, plight.

Bleeding Cool: Working on the series, Primal, which has no dialogue present, how has music been used to speak for the characters involved?

TB: The music in Primal is conceptualized to support the emotional arcs and the action in the show, which begins with Genndy's writing and illustrations, but, perhaps most importantly, relies on Genndy's narration and literal live beatboxed performance of the sound design and score in  spotting sessions. He is always very clear about where he feels music will most effectively  complement the storytelling and where sound design alone will best serve the picture. Genndy is  a brilliant writer and illustrator, so music is rarely designed to create emotion that isn't already on  screen. One very unique aspect of working with Genndy is that there are never temp music tracks  laid into any show – music is created entirely based on our conversations when spotting each  episode of Primal. It feels great as a composer to create with the subjective freedom and possibilities this process provides.

Bleeding Cool: What is your favorite part of working with music in film, television, and other forms of media?

TB: I am privileged to work in myriad aspects of music composition and production with  countless brilliant artists/collaborators. For this, I am grateful to have a colorful life rich with  incredibly talented people that make me a better artist every day of my life. I love it!  

Bleeding Cool: If you can, can you talk us through the process of working on the music for Pearl and what audiences can expect?

TB: This score was created under tight time constraints to have it ready to release close  to the release of X, so I called upon my good friend and longtime collaborator Tim Williams to  join me in creating this score. Greg Prechel also lent a hand in the process. I don't want to spoil  any surprising details about the film by discussing the music too specifically, but I can say that  the music is rooted in classic Hollywood orchestral score concepts of the forties and early fifties. This movie is unlike anything I have ever worked on or seen. I think it's incredible on many levels. It's a total Wizard of Oz acid trip!

Bleeding Cool: Finally, is there a recent soundtrack or album you've been listening to that you enjoy and would recommend to readers? And which project of your own would you want audiences to watch and/or witness first?

TB: Pearl will be released on September 16th, which is the record release date for Starcrawler's new album, "She Said," which I had a great time producing with them. They are a great young band, and the singles from this record are already hitting at radio, which is cool. I  attended the premiere of Day Shift a couple of nights ago. That movie is super fun and bat shit crazy. Love it! If you haven't checked out Jerry Cantrell's new album "Brighten, it's a special volume of  work. Jerry is truly amazing as an artist, collaborator, and just a great human. We had a  great time producing his new record with our friend Paul Figueroa. Great people all around. Also, Dan Haigh of the band GUNSHIP co-produced In This Moment's forthcoming EP with me, which we all love. I have enjoyed several collaborations with GUNSHIP and Maria Brink of In This Moment in the past, and this project was another great experience with  incredibly talented artists. I'm excited for people to check all of this out!

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Brittney BenderAbout Brittney Bender

In love with media, from TV to film, you'll find me writing recaps, TV/Film reviews, TV news, opinion pieces and more! Bisexual, queer, and proud! A bit of a creative mess with a love for dark humor, promoting important projects, and sharing interesting finds.
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